Chelsea manager Frank Lampard had given the green light to bid for Thomas Partey during the summer transfer window according to reports.
Chelsea didn't make a move for the deputy captain of the Black Stars, and he left Atletico Madrid for Arsenal on the October deadline.
Partey has shown signs of his consistency, especially in the 1-0 win of Arsenal over Manchester United, but is currently injured.
It is now possible to pressure Chelsea to pay a huge fee for Rice and to push against all other alternatives, having missed out on Partey.
Arsenal will be delighted to have beaten Chelsea to Partey's signature.